In my business summer is quiet, very quiet, too quiet. Exciting as it is that there may be an election called tomorrow it does nothing for that sense of sleepy summer days.
So I threw a proposal out yesterday which could make for a good deal of fun. And there are two others waiting for people who are also doing the long weekend thing.
But summer time is about spending a bit of time actually off duty. Relaxing. Having a beer in the hot afternoon. Taking most of Friday off. Swimming in the lake. Watching the full moon rise all orange with a bit of smoke and cloud.
If Harper calls an election tomorrow he knows virtually the entire country will ignore the call until after Labour Day. All he is really doing is shutting down the third party advertisers and bleeding the campaign treasuries of his opponents. It is a shitty thing to do but it is one of the prerogatives of the Premiership.
This promises to be a very odd election. Going in Harper has an economy in a weird form of freefall, a decent but deeply unexciting record, a dollar which is oversold and an electorate which is mildly hostile. The last is the most interesting thing. For all of the “I hate Harper” sentiment reported in the media the word “hate” is likely too strong. A better way of putting it might be that the electorate wish there was a better, more inspiring, leader on offer. Justin looked hot until people actually listened to him. Mulcair has never looked hot.
The Harper haters are legion and they win the social media game going away. However, there are all of a couple of thousand people who check in with #cdnpoli with any regularity and while this and other hashtags will inform the dimmer sections of the MSM it is unlikely to have much actual effect. If, as I suspect, JT is destined to be an also-ran, the question in this election is whether or not Mulcair can fit together all the Canada’s into an “anyone but Harper” wave. It is a difficult trick. It is not enough to hit 35% of the popular vote, that vote has to translate to seats. Somehow the NDP has to reach the aspirational middle class out in the burbs.
Harper has made a study of the burbs. He knows the hockey mad dads and the security mums. He knows all about New Canadians who want to get on the ladder to success and, if they can’t make it, make sure their kids can. In a sixty day campaign Harper can hit the burbs and talk about lower taxes and better government. He can paint the NDP as the public service unions’ poodle. He can run against the insanity which is the Wynne government.
The Tories have been a deeply uninspiring governing party. In a sense their principle claim will be that the ship of the Canadian state has not yet sunk under their command. Which, realistically, is an accomplishment but it is not extraordinary. Harper is not going to suddenly become a “great Prime Minister” in the next sixty days. Instead, I suspect he will run a cautious campaign in which he and his government will make something of a virtue out of their blandness.
I can’t imagine any voter going to vote will be fired by a great passion for Harper or the Tories; rather, this election will be won if voters see the alternatives to Harper as riskier than he is. In choppy seas there is a lot to be said for the patient, cautious captain who knows his ship and crew intimately.
What this election lacks is an actual issue. There is not a single thing which, in the dog days of summer, will grab the electorate. Senate Reform? Please. Climate Change? Over. The Budget? Plus/minus a billion it’s balanced. National Unity? Is that even a thing any more? Immigration? What are you, a racist? Gay Marriage? Done Deal. Jobs? Not yet. Scandal? Only if you live in the Annex. Security? Cuts Harper’s way and will be ignored.
So the only actual issue is whether or not people “hate” Harper enough to vote for the unknown. Can’t quite see that myself.